On the Run: Episode 7

Moose is pacing the tiny confines of his holding cell. On three sides of him are triple rows of bars; the fourth is solid stone. He mutters to himself, trying to memorize the instructions from his lawyer.

Moose: Companion, murdered-not-killed, had-jean, So-Sue. Companion, murdered-not-killed, had-jean, So-Sue.

Towpin is mopping the aisle between the holding cells. His tentacles clutch the mop harder and harder as he draws close enough to hear the muttering emerging from the Wild Gen's cell.

Moose: Companion, murdered-not-killed, had-jean, So-Sue.

Trazi: Hey, can you keep it down? Some of us are trying to sleep here.

Moose doesn't understand the words, but the tone of voice is unmistakable.

Moose: Sorry. Just tryin' to keep track of what my lawyer said.

Moose peers through the bars separating the two cells. Is that a woman in the next cell?!

Towpin applied for a job cleaning the police station in hopes of improving his status as the Most Inventive Role-Playing Gamer in Capital. He figured that criminals and police would provide lots of ideas and inspiration, and so far it's worked out pretty good.

Trazi rolls over on her cot and kicks the bars, wishing one of her friends would come in with bail and get this over with. So what if she trashed her old classroom at school? It was a lousy school anyway.

Towpin is, however, a bit rattled that the prisoner in Cell 3 appears to be ranting about his intentions to kill a Companion and murder a channel. Or is it the other way around?

Moose: Hey, Jailer. Did I get in the women's section by mistake, or what?

Moose has lived with some indignities in his time, but never before has he been mistaken for a woman.

Towpin gives a small yip as the Wild Gen's nager focuses on him.

Towpin: W-what?

Moose: Am I in the wrong section, or is she?

Towpin's Genlan is academic, and not suited for conversation with speakers of regional accents. He goes over that three times, until he thinks he's figured it out.

Towpin: You see judge tomow..tormow? I mean, soon?

Moose: I bloody well hope so.

Towpin jumps away.

Trazi watches the janitor jump in the air and snickers a bit. She figures the bars are more than enough to protect her from anything the Wild Gen might do, so it's interesting to watch.

Towpin: You want hurt judge too?

Trazi doesn't, however, understand more than a few words of the Genlan -- she failed most of those courses in school, until she was able to drop out.

Moose: Huh?

Towpin: Blood from judge not smart.

Moose stares in ~~ puzzlement ~~ until understanding dawns.

Moose: Oh. No. That's just an expression. You're right; that wouldn't be smart. I'm in enough trouble already.

Towpin draws a cautious step closer, daring to sneak duoconscious so that he can zlin the Wild Gen's nager. He's required to describe character nagers when he plays, which can take a lot of effort to figure out.

Moose has returned to his usual strategy: keep ~~ calm ~~ unless there's a good reason not to.

Towpin finds Moose's nager a little ~ disappointing ~. He wanted to develop a pre-Unity Giant Killer Gen character based on the prisoner.

Towpin: Yes. Much trouble to hurt Companion of channel.

Moose: Hey, I had no idea his girlfriend was anyone special.

Moose is still not clear on what Debree is to the woman, besides her boyfriend.

Moose: And I wasn't gonna hurt him any more than I had to. It's a matter of pride, to make a nice clean capture.

Towpin: Why you choose Companion?

Moose: He's the one I was after. The one they've got the reward on, back home.

Towpin: They reward Companions in Genland?

Moose: No. They reward me, if I bring him in.

Towpin: They want a Companion? Why? They have channel?

Towpin, like many Simes, habitually views a Companion or Donor as an appendage of his assigned channel.

Moose: Hey, I told you, I didn't know his girlfriend was anyone important.

Trazi is getting really bored of listening to a conversation in a language she can't understand. She tries to get Towpin's attention with a nageric signal.

Towpin looks at her and switches to Simelan.

Towpin: What do you want?

Trazi: Hey! This is getting really boring. I want to know the goods. What's the big Wild Gen in here for?

Trazi has a pretty short attention span to begin with, and lying around in a place where there are no really cool prisoners is starting to grate on her nerves.

Towpin: He tried to kidnap a big-time Companion and drag him to Gen Territory.

Trazi: Seriously?

Trazi's eyes go wide.

Trazi: Oh, wow, man. He actually tried to hurt a... oh, wow. That's really hardcore.

Trazi finds herself actually rather cowed at the idea of sharing a jail with such hardcore badness.

Towpin: Yeah. Nobody knows yet what he was gonna do with the guy once he got across the border, but it couldn't have been good. Some places in Genland still really hate the Tecton.

Trazi: Oh, wow. That guy's scary. Um, good thing he's low-field, huh? Wow, man.

Trazi laughs nervously.

Towpin: Yeah. I bet he wouldn't be if the channel had known what he was capable of.

Moose remembers, out of the blue, that he has a horse and carriage -- the expensive kind, glassed in and with curtains -- still tied to a hitching post beside the park.

Moose: Hey, can you get someone to go take care of my horse?

Trazi: They shouldn't have him in here with little petty criminals like me. All I did was trash my old school classroom, 'cause my teacher was a jerk who flunked me before I dropped out. That guy could really be dangerous to us, man.

Trazi doesn't mention that this isn't her first trip to the jail for a minor infraction, or even her second or third.

Towpin: Yeah. He's a real-life Giant Killer Gen. I wouldn't care to have to stay next to him all night.

Towpin looks back at Moose.

Towpin: You have a horse?

Trazi: Yeah. It's kinda spooky anyway, because I heard this place used to be an old Pen back before Unity. I hate it when I have to spend the night here...

Moose: Yeah. Horse and carriage, by the west entrance to the park. Someone needs to collect them. Wouldn't want the horse to starve.

Moose mentally adds, or be stolen.

Towpin: [to Trazi, in Simelan] Look at it this way: what better place to cage a dangerous Wild Gen.

Towpin: [to Moose, in what his teacher claimed was Genlan] If west of park, horse not tied.

Moose: Say what?

Towpin: Tied horse when, exactly?

Moose: This morning. About an hour before I was arrested.

Towpin: Now evening. Horse gone.

Moose: How do you know?

Towpin: West of park.

Moose: What about it?

Towpin: Flyball courts in west part of park. And today is last Thursday of month.

Moose isn't sure what flyball is, but recalls passing some open areas with chalked markings on the ground.

Moose: What does that have to do with my horse?

Towpin: This afternoon big game with Bandits and Pirates.

Moose: You're saying that bandits and pirates stole my horse?

Moose could think of a few far worse names for a horse thief.

Towpin: No. Just... cooling devices?

Moose: ~~ puzzlement ~~

Towpin: Folded papers for hot?

Moose: Cooling devices? My horse is chilling in a meat locker somewhere?

Towpin: No, no. Perfectly safe.

Moose finds that less reassuring than he ought to.

Moose: Perfectly safe where?

Towpin: If you know, tell police. If not, try market. Find other horse, perhaps.

Moose: I don't know. That's why I'm asking. And I don't want another horse; I want my own back. And the carriage.

Towpin: Market. Or maybe fountain.

Moose: Market, I can understand. But fountain?

Towpin recalls a game after which a cow and three sheep ended up in the municipal fountain.

Towpin: Place for cow, sheep, why not horse?

Moose puzzles over that one.

Moose: Someone took pity on my horse and took it to get a drink?

Moose thinks it would have been simpler just to bring a bucket of water.

Towpin: Probably. Thirsty horse act bad.

Moose: So where would they have taken it after that?

Moose wonders if there's an impound stable somewhere.

Towpin: South, maybe east.

Moose: Why?

Moose is determined to get to the bottom of this.

Towpin: Bandits south, Pirates east.

Moose is reasonably certain that there's no large body of water to the east of Capital.

Moose: East?

Towpin: Yes. By lake.

Moose: Oh. Listen, can I file a police report or something?

Towpin is ~~ confused ~~.

Towpin: You talked in room with green table?

Moose pictures the interrogation room.

Moose: Er, yes.

Towpin: Who officer in room?

Moose can't remember. He had other things on his mind at the time.

Moose: I don't recall. It should be written down in my file somewhere, shouldn't it?

Towpin: If bald Gen man, report filed now. If red hair Gen woman, report filed tomorrow.

Moose: It was a guy.

Towpin: A guy?

Towpin tries to figure out what that is.

Moose: A man. A bloke. Male.

Towpin: Oh.

Towpin thinks it over.

Towpin: Well, report probably filed. Unless other problem happen.

Moose: Yes, it did. The horse!

Towpin considers that.

Towpin: Taking Companion more important than horse. Your report filed first.

Moose: Yeah, but I still want my horse back. That should be a separate report anyway, shouldn't it?

Towpin: Not important. You not ride horse, long time.

Moose: If not the horse, then the money for it. And the carriage. That was an expensive carriage.

Towpin: Oh. You want sell?

Moose is ~~ chilled ~~ at the implication that the outcome of his trial is so certain.

Moose: Well, I'd rather go free and keep the horse. But at the very least, I'd like them both found.

Moose finds, besides, that worrying about the horse is less disquieting than worrying about his own future.

Towpin: They are found. Horse will not starve.

Moose: If they're found, then where are they? And why didn't you say so?

Towpin: Don't know who found. If Bandit, horse south. If Pirate, horse east. Unless at market already. That north.

Moose buries his face in his hands.

Moose: That kind of found, I want to file a report on.

Towpin: Oh. Talk to lawyer.

Moose: Then get my lawyer for me. Fast, before the trail is cold.

Towpin shrugs.

Towpin: I clean floors. Why lawyer listen to me?

Moose: Can you just go give someone the message for me? Maybe the bald man?

Towpin: I tell front greeter. Maybe she be nice and tell lawyer.

Moose: That'd be good. Thanks.

Towpin takes his mop and bucket, waves to Trazi, and leaves the cell block.

Moose returns to muttering under his breath.

Moose: C'mpanion, killed-not-murdered, had-jean, So-Sue.

Trazi watches the janitor go, and decides not to risk taunting the Killer Gen at this point. Anyone who would try to harm a Companion is more than she wants to tangle with, so she settles instead for curling up on her bed and hoping one of her friends comes back with the bail money soon.

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